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Group objects to military recruitment ads at schools


Channel 3000

November 3, 2007


MADISON, Wis. -- Less than a year ago, the Madison School Board approved ads at athletic venues to generate additional funding, but one group is now protesting military recruitment ads.

The ads, which are located just under the scoreboards at four gyms and two football fields, feature a logo and a phone number for the U.S. Army.

The recruitment ads are part of a three-year deal, with the Army paying $17,000 Madison Metropolitan School District.

But some residents have questioned whether ads are an appropriate way to recruit.

Will Williams' military service started in 1962, right out of the high school. But the Vietnam veteran said he is concerned about the recruitment ads surfacing on Madison's school grounds.

"That ad is more than what you see there. That ad is followed by the bombardment of other material that the students deal with in the schools, with the recruiters present," Williams said.

Williams is a member of the group Truth and Alternatives to Militarism in Education, which wants the Madison School Board to take down the ads.

"It's just inappropriate. The kids are getting just advertising all over the place, everywhere they turn around, military advertising. It's too much They're children -- let them alone," said David Hoppee, organizer with TAME.

Madison School Board Treasurer Carol Carstensen said that budget issues are forcing the board to turn to other resources.

"I was not, and still am not, enthusiastic about this whole idea of advertising. But I had said we're really strapped, and I'm doing things I wouldn't ordinarily approve of," Carstensen said.

But Williams said that students shouldn't base decisions on ads they see at school.

"The best advice if they want to go, is to be informed about it -- ask the right questions and talk to vets, someone that's been there that knows," Williams said. Carstensen also pointed out that legal boundaries may not allow the district to prohibit military advertising.

TAME will hold a protest at the Madison School Board meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.

The No Child Left Behind Act requires school districts that receive federal funds to provide the same access to military recruiters as they would with other college recruiters. However, advertising is something the guidelines don't address, WISC-TV reported.

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